A hidden gem rich in experiences
Published on 04 Nov 2019
When you imagine Poland, your first thoughts aren’t likely to be its coastal offerings. But, in actual fact, Poland is a wonderful coastal destination that many decide to cruise to. With bustling seaside venues, white sand beaches and a colourful heritage to uncover, there’s plenty of family-friendly fun to be head in Poland. Here, we take a look at Poland’s Tri-City, a famous metropolitan region on the north coast comprised of cities Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot:
At the forefront of Poland’s Tri-City, Gdańsk is a colourful port city with an intriguing history. When exploring Gdańsk, you’ll find that its turbulent history is prevalent throughout, particularly in its architecture. For hundreds of years, Gdańsk bounced between German and Polish territory and towards the end of WWII, Gdańsk endured heavy air raids, particularly along its Main Street. When it was rebuilt, architects did not want to build it to look like its previous German architecture, instead choosing to rebuild it to look more French and Dutch.
“Gdańsk is full of history,” Tanja from TwoTell says. “So I advise climbing the 405 steps up to the tower of the famous St. Mary’s Church, which is thought to be the largest brick church in the world. Once you reach the top, you’ll have incredible views of this beautiful city.”
The church holds over 25,000 people, which made it a place of refuge for people of the solidarity movement. Walking along its corridors is a spellbinding experience, with light bouncing off the walls thanks to the church’s 37 colossal windows. Further adding to the size of the structure, there are roughly 30 chapels to discover and over 300 grace slabs tiling the floors.
Although there are many museums to visit in Gdańsk, Paulina from Paulina on the Road recommends one in particular, “One of my favourite places to visit in Gdańsk is located on the outskirts; the European Solidarity Centre (ESC). It’s much more than a museum, it’s a place where people meet and hang out.”
We also chatted to Andy from Grown Up Travel Guide who echoed Paulina’s sentiments, “It’s no secret that you have to visit the European Solidarity Centre, an incredible multi-purpose building that was voted the best museum in Europe a couple of years ago. The permanent exhibition is found on the first and second floors and covers almost 3,000 square metres. I have no desire to spoil it for you, suffice to say that it is one of the most moving presentations of modern history I have ever experienced. If you make it through with dry eyes, you’re stronger than most!”
A smaller city with a big nautical history, Gdynia is home to a wide dock lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, bars and cafés with outdoor terraces, perfect for taking a load off and watching people go about their day. As a port city, activities generally revolve around the seaside. Whether that’s visiting the main pier or the aquarium or Miechlinki Beach, Gdynia is perfect for families looking to enjoy some quality time together while exploring the city’s coastal offerings.
Away from Gdynia’s maritime history and culture, you’ll find Mana Mana, a successful handbag shop that had humble beginnings. Recommended by Andy, this handbag shop is more than just a retailer, with a fabulous story to tell, “This bag manufacturer takes pride in using the best quality materials and its aim is to promote the revival of handmade quality with modern, fun designs. Originally started in a tiny apartment in Gdynia in 2011, Mana Mana grew through word of mouth and social media and expanded so rapidly that new premises had to be found and extra staff employed. It is very inspiring to learn the history of this booming small business and to see the artisans at work.”
Tanja has also been lucky enough to visit Gdynia. She recommends learning about its maritime history by exploring two of its floating museums; Blyskawica and Dar Pomorza. “There are two really amazing battleships that are now museums directly at the end of the harbour, across from the aquarium - you can’t miss them. I really recommend visiting at least one of them in order to get an impression of the great seafaring tradition of the city.”
The final pillar of Poland’s Tri-City, Sopot is a seaside resort located between Gdańsk and Gdynia that’s full of intriguing architecture and glitzy bars and restaurants. Visited by a wealth of travellers, Sopot remains a popular destination for people looking for sun, sea and sand alongside eccentric architectural delights. From its numerous beaches to many tourist attractions, Sopot is home to an eclectic mix of bars, cafés and restaurants. Although Sopot isn’t a cruise port, it’s only 20 minutes from Gdańsk and Gdynia, making it an ideal day trip location.
Tanja recommends visiting one of Sopot’s most famous spots, Krzywy Domek, or the crooked house. “You’ll not believe it until you see it. I came across the crooked house randomly in the middle of the pedestrian zone. Although it doesn’t look like it, there are several bars, cafés and restaurants inside. Take your time exploring inside and then enjoy a coffee in one of its many cafés.”
If you’re looking to get away from the busy tourist spots, Andy recommends heading off the beaten path to see what amazing sights you encounter. “There is far more to Sopot than the beach and Monte Cassino. One of the best ways to explore is simply to wander without a map, head away from the main tourist areas and take the side roads. You’ll discover an amazing mix of architectural styles and a plethora of beautifully restored houses, dilapidated buildings yet to be cared for and Soviet-style apartments. Take the road less travelled, I say!”